December is the ‘unofficial’ season in Nuwara Eliya with a crisp, cold and frosty mist engulfing Lake Gregory, the town, gardens as well as parks. The British used to flock to Nuwara Eliya for a home-like Christmas during the colonial era. The cool weather and atmosphere reminded them of London and the countryside, and in elegant hotels and residences they recreated the English Christmases with mistletoe decorations and preparations of flaming puddings.
One is sure to discover that the traces of the Victorian Christmases linger on. The magnificent vintage hotel and bungalow halls are decked with holly and ivy, tall trees glisten with baubles, and live choirs singing carols ring out, making you feel as if you have been transported more than a hundred years.
Festive ambience apart, the natural beauty of Nuwara Eliya has a mystic and magical feeling about it during December. Stroll on through Victoria Park, with mist drifting amidst trees. To the south of the town is Single Tree Mountain. This is officially the tenth highest mountain in the country, which affords a dreamy panorama of Lake Gregory like a mirror to the right and mist-clad mountains fading away to the horizon. It is well worth driving uphill to Hakgala Botanical Gardens. The alpine trees amidst the dark cold, the mist and the silence is strange and you will find dream-like walking paths.
The trek through Horton Plains is more nostalgic with a hint of romantic colour. Shaggy-coated Sambhur raise antlered heads and regard you, chewing calmly, amidst the plains. Dark silhouettes of trees and blue- green mountains line the way to the World’s End with its sheer, dramatic drop of nearly a kilometre. Further along the trail, you can cool your feet in picturesque Baker’s Falls, which is part of a small river that winds through the plains.
Nuwara Eliya during the cold season presents a magical world that one must surely take the time to discover. Keep in mind to bring with you as much warm clothing as you can because temperatures can plummet down to five degrees or lower amidst the merry atmosphere. On days such as that, you might be in luck to witness frost clinging on to grass and ferns just before dawn, especially at the Nuwara Eliya Race Course.